Afternoon Voice

Let’s put an end to the scams around road construction

The Maharashtra government asking all the state civic bodies to make public the action taken report (ATR) on the below par condition of the city roads within three weeks from the date of receiving complaints has made me laugh out loud on the fate of the city dwellers like us who so far has trusted whatever the authorities promised and always compromised on our daily hurdles. Either it is before the monsoon, during the monsoon, or any other time of the year, our desire to have a comfortable travel was always spoiled by the fake promises of pothole-free good roads.

However, the tragic state of the administrative affairs doesn’t end here! This recent wakeup call by the state government is not a self-driven initiative. Unfortunately, the Bombay High Court had to step into the picture and warn the BMC with consequences of not taking care of citizens’ fundamental rights to have good roads and footpaths. Here comes another awful story. Footpaths of many places in the city are either occupied by the hawkers, or its broken handrail block the way making it dangerous to pass by, or making it worse than it can with the broken tiles that can cause you a broken ankle or knee if you dare to use it.

Good and safe roads are the bare minimum that a government can serve its taxpayers. Mumbai, a city that’s called the ‘business capital of the nation’ is really unlucky to repeatedly ask for one facility i.e. smooth and pothole-free roads and safe and available footpaths. Who gives the state government and the BMC the right to mock the city natives or people emigrated from the other states with false promises every time? Moreover, they boast of their superlative performances shamelessly. Starting from monsoon this year, the city has seen multiple accidents and death due to these giant and fatal potholes.

The massive traffic snarls on the Western Express Highway have become a common sight ever since the work on the Metro-7 (Dahisar to Andheri) project began earlier in 2017. I use the WEH daily to commute to my office in Kandivali. The distance that Google Maps estimates only half an hour to cover usually, the slowed down traffic due to killer potholes make it nearly or sometimes more than an hour. If the highways of the city give such pain to its commuters, I don’t think there’s much to explain the pain of the people living and using the road in the suburbs.

A road construction in our country includes the involvement of the Politicians, Road Construction Department, Engineers in-charge of the project, Residents of the Locality where the roads are being built, The Construction Company, and the Employees of the Construction company. But corruption hovers around a large part of this chain. The taxpayers’ money is being looted and the better quality materials are replaced with the low-quality ones for road constructions leading to damages all over a newly constructed road within months of its construction and the administration will again plan a project to repair them. Oh, yes! Here comes another way to loot your hard earned money.

The word ‘promises from the government’ have become so outdated now that Mumbaikars now only need action and the administration should be shameful if they fail to do so. It’s high time, the administrations in the power corridors with the AC rooms and AC cars get aligned to fulfil their duties or else the city people will not think twice to think of an alternative.

 

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)